Step back in time at one of London’s most elegant hotels and the station over which it’s built – Charing Cross – and you’ll find yourself immersed in an era of marble columns, renaissance style interiors and timeless gentility.
Charming and quintessentially British, the Charing Cross hotel has been a part of London’s landscape since 1865 and the classic Grade II listed building and its ornate Victorian architecture blends in with interiors, featuring a sweeping staircase, high ceilings and modern chunky furnishings in taupe, black and red.
Every evening the walkways and staircases are lined with hundreds of scented candles – it’s a great setting for a weekend of romance, a first night or girly pampering session with friends or family. The hotel is frequented by shoppers, spa lovers and city weekend enthusiasts all wanting in on the experience of staying at an iconic railway station hotel, slap bang in the middle of London (Charing Cross is said to be the most central point in the Capital with a 70-foot replica of the original Eleanor Cross at the forecourt of the station marking it as such).
The new Urban Retreat Package the hotel offers is just the ticket for anyone wanting to tie in a trip to London with some full on beauty indulgences: where you’ll be chauffeur driven to Harrods and have a choice of make-up lessons, manis and pedis, massages and all over body treatments.
The hotel sits above Charing Cross Train Station in the heart of the capital, giving guests the perfect base to explore The Strand, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Theatre Land, Whitehall, The Mall and Buckingham Palace. The South Bank is a mere 10-minute walk and The National Portrait Gallery – which has free admission - is also within arms reach.
The exclusive hotel has 239 guest rooms and suite designs offer a mix of classic and contemporary features, including an impressive art collection and stunning views over The Strand and of the National Gallery and managing (thankfully) to obliterate any sounds from the bustling streets and passing trains below. Our room featured a separate lounge area, a 26-inch flat screen TV with Freeview and which could be swiveled round to face both the bed and a large, well-lit dressing table. The bathroom is well thought out with a separate bath and shower and plenty of toileteries.
We opted for a dinner in the Terrace restaurant and vodka tonics with lashings of fresh limes later at the Strand Bar. The Terrace restaurant overlooks The Strand and we were lucky enough to bag the best seat in the house: a romantic corner table on the terrace. While it is a pretty formal affair, staff help to pull off an unpretentious vibe as does a relaxed menu serving British classics.
The spa treatments
After a hectic working week, an all-over body treatment at Urban Retreat on Harrod’s Fifth floor as part of the Charing Cross package, is just the ticket. My therapist informs me that all the body scrubs, oils and creams used during treatment are combined with holistic and ancient holistic techniques, beginning with the inhaling of an aromatherapy essence and a light shiatsu pressure point massage, followed by some therapist-assisted limb-stretching to relive any aches and pains in my joints.
I then had my skin buffed and polished with an intense exfoliation and creamy scrub which I washed off under a quick, warm shower. For the final part of the treatment I was massaged with a moisture rush body cream with lavender and iris essential oils. I left feeling relaxed – and with a half-an-hour gap before my chauffeur arrived – happy to check out the latest furniture collections on the second floor.
Need to know
The Guoman Charing Cross Hotel, The Strand, London WC2N 5HX
The Guoman Urban Retreat Package costs from £555 and includes 2 nights for two people at any Guoman hotel in London and a choice of treatments at Urban Retreat, Harrod’s with chauffeur service there and back. For more information or to make a reservation, call 0871 376 9012 or visit www.guoman.com.